The room that teeters at the top of The Hope & Ruin is as packed as I’ve ever seen it. Elbows, oversized hats, and shoulders all endanger my pint as I squeeze stage-wards, where two lads are installed in the midst of an Apple-store worth of electronics. They’re warming up for Flamingods; doing some kind of wonky, mind-expanding take on Disclosure, but with no words, and more uuuurrrrmmph. Their deep bass is mafting, their synth is frenetic, and… I don’t have a clue about electronica really, but it’s worth checking out. Shinamo Moki is what they call ‘emselves, and they’re just right to replace your 90’s rave tunes you play before you go on the piss.
Now, before I move on to Flamingods, there’s another act sandwiched in the listing. Now, I’d seen one of these guys hanging round all the gigs I’ve been gong to recently, and he’s always well eager to chew the ear off anyone with a guitar round their neck, so I’m always a bit wary of him ‘cos I don’t really do the whole tube amp vs combo yawn debate. So yeah, it really surprised me when this guy, with an impressive orange fringe, and Mexican style poncho inserts himself, along with his mate who is the spitting dab of Ian Brown, among the intimidating array of kit that dominates the stage. These two are Native Ray, I’m told they’ve only been on the go for six months, and the ginger music enthusiast works at a sweet shop in his spare time… Oh rock ‘n’ roll, what happened?!
Anyway, their sound is like nothing I’d ever thought two blokes capable of creating; it owes a lot to Animal Collective, what with its duelling chants, and insistent, muscular electronic beat, but it’s also its own beast too. They know how to create a build up and let it drop off at just the right moment; they have pop sensibilities, but know when it’s appropriate to disregard them and pursue a 5 minute avant-garde improvisation. It’s bloody fantastic I tell you, and the whole room is in raptures long after they’ve left the stage, a proper fitting warm up for Flamingods with their varied rhythmic palette and wild array of samples.
So Flamingods. Even watching them set up is treat. There’s like six or seven of them, behind keyboards, two drum kits, a bass guitar, and yep, a saxophone. They test to see whether their keys are tasty enough, whether their drums are in league with a face-hit by Amir Khan and if this weird little melotron thing with strings if working properly. You can feel the crowd bristling with excitement; ready to be taken to new worlds.
It begins when the more morose looking of the two drummers settles behind his kit, and a sunrise is projected onto his face. Oh, wait, the singer has to put on his jewelled waist-coat and fez. Of course. And then they play. It’s exactly like their recent album, Majesty; beginning the story of the album in the morning, with rousing Arabic-inspired intonations, and stirring blasts from the keyboard.
Then Flamingods evoke the mid-morning; I picture windswept fields of barley, with a fizzing light reflecting off athletic limbs as friends race carelessly into the day. The drums pick up pace and I can appreciate why there needs to be two kits; one holds the propulsive beat, while the second ornaments it with frantic splashes on the cymbals.
Their set maintains its high energy throughout, tune after tune broadcasting sweet luscious sounds over our heads and through our souls, but the real reason every song sounds so fresh is because the band are constantly switching instruments; guitarists become drummers, and keyboardists un-sheath guitars held round their back. It all becomes too much for one of them; he’s sweltering with the effort he’s dedicating to the music, and strips from the waist up, his torso a waterfall, and his lengthy hair spilling all over the drum kit as the set reaching a cacophonous height.
The conclusion of all this frothing, foaming vibrance is when the singer incites a sort of Greek tavern melody on the keys and jumps down into the crowd, encouraging the audience to copy his mental jig and chuck themselves around. Everyone is left beaming and, at the behest of the singer “closer together, in love, as one.” Are these the new, more ethnically diverse Primal Scream? Time will tell, but three albums into their career, and with a live show as flawless as theirs I don’t think they need to be asking questions like that.
By Adam Morrison